Expectation Management

India will probably win, but England have had a pretty good day. Given where they began, and given expectations for a batting line up for whom the word brittle was coined, to set India 209 was a fair few levels above what may have been anticipated by the perpetually pessimistic with good reason England fans. That first innings deficit was both a psychological and and a physical barrier for England to overcome, and that they did so and set a reasonable target was almost entirely down to Joe Root. This was one of his best hundreds, looking in complete control and driving both sides of the wicket with fluency and outstanding footwork. He is nothing short of a joy to watch when he’s in this kind of form.

It is obvious just by looking at the statistics, but it really is quite startling just how far ahead of the rest of the line up he is. It’s not quite the case that when he fails, England fail, but it’s not far off. England got a total that was quite passable, and a target to defend that is big enough to allow for some degree of hope that they might win the match. From 183 all out in the first innings, that’s no bad place to be, for they looked thoroughly out of it and facing a humiliation before Anderson ripped the Indian top order out. Indeed, although the Indian tail wagged irritatingly well, to bowl the visitors out for 278 was a fine performance from the England attack, particularly Robinson and Anderson. Without any hope of putting real pressure on, they maintained control and whittled their way through the Indian order. Conceding a 95 run deficit might not seem like a triumph, and certainly the late runs damaged England’s prospects, but it was still a sterling effort given the match situation.

Two early wickets in England’s second innings made it all the more likely that a day of disaster was on the cards, but Root and Sibley put together a partnership that steadied matters, and allowed England to erase the deficit and start to build. Sibley’s dismissal was a poor shot having done all the hard work, but he does at least give the impression of a work in progress, able to occupy the crease for long periods as often as not. Given the state of England’s batting, and that he’s their second highest run scorer (behind Root) this calendar year, he’s not the most pressing of England’s concerns. Getting out when set is not a great thing to happen, but he is at least getting set in the first place. His slow scoring rate is neither here nor there in the current circumstances. If England need quick runs to set up a declaration or win, he’s not the man – oh to be in a position where that is a consideration. That isn’t to defend him especially, it’s that he’s not the biggest problem right now, and there are quite a few of them.

Bairstow looked rather good but managed to middle the ball straight to Jadeja at deep square leg. Curran played an important little innings and again looked one of the more technically accomplished batsmen in the England team. Technique is only one element of batting, but while at present he may be one of those players who isn’t quite good enough in either the batting or the bowling department to nail down a consistent place, his batting still looks promising. That’s perhaps part of the issue, he’s all promise and at some point needs to turn that into results on a regular basis. Becoming a genuine all rounder remains a hope and a dream, and time is still on his side. But such a hope doesn’t mean it will come to pass – at one time Stuart Broad wasn’t that far away from all rounder status, and his batting decline has been vertical.

Part of the feeling of being relatively pleased with England’s efforts is the suspicion that India, even in English conditions, are a far superior team, and that this could well be a long and chastening Test series. The bowling attack, particularly in the shape of Bumrah, looks more threatening, the batting so far superior to their English counterparts that it is barely in the same equation. Although Robinson got the rewards in the first innings, a feeling persists that the old warhorses of Anderson and Broad aren’t just going to have to lead the attack, they’re going to be trying bail out the batting on a semi-permanent basis. And that’s too much to ask time and again, especially when there are injuries to potential replacements.

Into the evening session and England trying to dislodge the Indian top order. It can’t be said that KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma were under any pressure, because they weren’t, right up to the point that Stuart Broad, with headband on parade, took the former’s outside edge. It had been an oddly low key period of play, the crowds weren’t exactly roaring England on, and the team looked a bit flat, particularly given that bowling conditions were entirely in England’s favour. Once the wicket was taken, things went up a notch, especially with the arrival into the attack of the somewhat unlucky Robinson.

India are warm favourites to win tomorrow, weather permitting, and as a reflection of the match, so far, that would surprise no one. But England did at least fight today, and their captain showed how exceptional a batsman he is, and how far superior to anything else the team has. Given the forecast, we got more play than we expected, and England played better than expected. It’s probably not going to be enough, the old truism applying that you can’t win the game with the bat on the first day, but you can lose it.

It’s Test cricket though, and the most special thing about this finest version of the game is that you just never know. Roll on Sunday.

37 thoughts on “Expectation Management

  1. dArthez Aug 8, 2021 / 3:37 am

    A comment on the 278 being a fine effort from Anderson and Robinson. That much is true. But if you can’t score runs, at least field properly (it is not like India were batting in pristine batting conditions; if anything England have had the best of the conditions in the first 3 days / first two innings). 278 looks like a reasonable effort, but if you add in that Pujara, Kohli and Rahane contributed just 9 runs, the other 7 wickets contributing 269 does look like a rather poor effort from England in the field. And England, well, fell far short in that department as well.

    Root held the third innings together, and it was a mighty fine effort. Sadly, it seems that innings like that are massively beyond the rest of the batting line up, unless facing popgun attacks.

    The new ball did the trick for India. If Bumrah and co. can consistently mop up the tail, then that would be a massive boost for their series winning chances. Barring a collapse of epic proportion, or a massive deluge, one would think India will go 1-0 up here.

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    • dArthez Aug 8, 2021 / 4:14 am

      As an aside, perversely Bumrah and co. doing so well against the tail may well be just what Leach needs to get picked to actually play.

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  2. dArthez Aug 8, 2021 / 10:52 am

    Looks like the rain may bail England out.

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    • dlpthomas Aug 8, 2021 / 11:37 am

      Is it wrong that I’m happy about that?

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      • dArthez Aug 8, 2021 / 12:17 pm

        With the weather related luck England have had against India since 2007, you could argue that weather has been the best player for England in the 2018 series.

        The only thing rain achieves here is that the ECB will congratulate themselves on a job well done.

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        • dlpthomas Aug 8, 2021 / 2:59 pm

          Cricket fans are a strange breed. I’ve been looking forward to this series for ages and yet I am happy that todays play may be washed out.

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      • dArthez Aug 8, 2021 / 12:28 pm

        Also bear in mind that this is the 10th toss Kohli has lost in 11 Tests he was in charge in England. And some of those tosses were crucial, so yeah, I do feel England would actually be served better if the weather gods do not bail them out.

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        • Mark Aug 8, 2021 / 12:41 pm

          I will be surprised if all the play is washed out today. The forecast for this afternoon is much better. I’m assuming they can go on till 7pm so India may yet have time to knock off the runs. They may get 3-4 hours.

          England are poor, we know that. And at some point in this series the Indian batting line up is going to fire, and post a score of 450+. Unless Root makes a double hundred it’s unclear where the runs will come from for England.

          As to the ECB, they care not a jot in my view about the future of Test cricket going forward. Which is why they have upended the entire domestic season, and are trying to invent yet another format of cricket. They have bet the future on shorter One day formats.

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          • dArthez Aug 8, 2021 / 3:07 pm

            Maybe not all, but enough play will be washed out so that India will need Pant pyrotechnics to stand a chance of winning this Test (the optimistic scenario is about 30 overs to get 157). And I don’t expect the umpires to no-ball England when they start bowling negative lines.

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        • Marek Aug 8, 2021 / 1:34 pm

          …and, as if on cue, the first call in the press this week for the recall of a player who at the start of the game had a lower test average than any specialist batter playing in this test and who’s scored one century in fifteen matches (actually he has a strikingly similar record to Crawley); who’s two years older than any of the alternatives and a decade older than several; and who’s played three first-class matches since the end of the 2019 season, two against very weak bowling attacks and the third against a team which only fielded three specialist bowlers.

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          • dArthez Aug 8, 2021 / 2:24 pm

            You know you have hit the nadir when there are calls for Cook to return …

            So not there yet.

            Which makes me wonder – are those people (who write about this ludicrous recall) actually even watching the occasional bit of the county cricket?

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  3. dArthez Aug 8, 2021 / 4:09 pm

    So England get bailed out by the weather again. But that is probably better than 20 overs to get 157 with only one side having a chance to win, despite being pretty much outplayed for 4 consecutive days.

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    • Mark Aug 8, 2021 / 4:48 pm

      Yes, they were saved by the weather today. However you could argue that India were fortunate to get a full days play yesterday. The wet weather in the west didn’t make it across to Nottingham all day.

      That’s what happens when you play cricket in England. Seeing as India are far superior I doubt they will lose much sleep over it. They have four more tests to make their superiority count. And the weather for the middle of August is forecast to be much better so their batsman should be able to fire.

      England have huge problems at the top of the order. I don’t know what they will do as the cupboard is pretty bare, and players are out of form playing red ball cricket at this time of the newly remodelled season……as it’s been replaced by ODIs. No Stokes or Archer, and muddled thinking about spin does not inspire much hope of an England series win. Root, Broad and Anderson will have to play out of their skins to keep England in the series.

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    • Marek Aug 8, 2021 / 8:45 pm

      Re Broad playing out of his skin: he’ll certainly need to be much more consistent than he has been so far this year, where he’s blown both hot (Galle, Birmingham) and cold (most of the rest of the time). He’s averaging 37and striking at 85.

      Actually, given that his batting offers absolutely nothing these days, if Lord’s is still playing like the motorway it was a few years ago, I wonder if it might be worth considering Wood instead of Broad.

      The opinion of those giving marks out of ten in papers was that Broad lacks game time, but I can’t see where they get that from. He’s played the same number of f-c games this season, and bowled almost as many overs, as Robinson and quite a bit more than Anderson (and obviously infinitesimally more than Curran, who hasn’t played or bowled any, although that wasn’t mentioned in their marking of him!)

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      • Mark Aug 8, 2021 / 9:08 pm

        His batting has gone down ridiculously for someone who can bat. It’s almost as if he has adopted the mantra …..”it’s the way I play….”

        People once spoke of him as an all rounder who should bat at 8. Now you are pleased if he doesn’t give it away first ball.

        Will they play a spinner at Lords? And who will be dropped? What will they do with the batting?

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      • Marek Aug 9, 2021 / 10:02 pm

        So the muddled selection thinking goes on with the news that they’re thinking of calling up Ali to the squad. If they don’t think that Curran is an all-rounder, then why wasn’t Ali in the squad in the first place? And why wasn’t Wood or Overton in the playing XI at Nottingham–are they really saying that Curran (particularly a Curran who hasn’t played a f-c game for six months) is England’s fourth-best fit seamer?

        Still it could be worse–they could be Australia’s T20 side, having just seen their opponents defend 131 or less three times in a week (and have a bloody good go at defending 104). Mustafizur series figures of 7-60 off 17 overs–you’d be more than happy with that in a test match!

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        • Miami Dad's Six Aug 10, 2021 / 2:54 am

          Picking Moeen on the back of a score in the chundred reeks of another one Test random generator selection. Unless he pulls a miracle out the hat, his next Test will be the 3rd Test Down Under.

          Liked by 1 person

          • dArthez Aug 10, 2021 / 5:34 am

            Moeen Ali, the man to emulate Wilfred Rhodes?

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          • dannycricket Aug 10, 2021 / 6:59 pm

            It’s not like anyone else is playing first-class cricket. It’s the players in the squad, or players who have played white ball cricket for the past few weeks. That’s it.

            I certainly wouldn’t have gone with Moeen, and I wouldn’t expect him to score many runs. That last time he scored a first-class 50 was 2019, as he missed the 2020 and 2021 domestic competitions due to being in the England bubble/IPL.

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          • Mark Aug 11, 2021 / 12:05 pm

            Moeen recalled to the squad for second test…….

            FROM CRICINFO…..”Root hopes Moeen can carry Hundred form and confidence into Tests”

            So we are picking test players based on the hundred now??? Who are 5 biggest run scorers in the hundred? We might as well pick them then.

            Meanwhile, Broad and Anderson are a doubt for Thursday.

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          • Marek Aug 11, 2021 / 3:01 pm

            Well to be fair, hoping that someone will transfer good form from one format to another isn’t the same thing as selecting them based on that other format.

            But I had a look, for fun (actually I selected a top seven). And, although the Hundred top-scorers aren’t exactly a world-beating test batting line-up (in batting order, they’re Hales, Roy, Malan, Livingstone, Brook, Duckett and Ali), two things struck me.

            One is that–although I would prefer the current line-up–the difference in the confidence I’d have between the two is…let’s say, a lot less than it should be!

            The second is that I think I’d have more confidence in it than the top seven scoring England-qualified batters from the Championship this year (Hameed, Robson, Libby, Haines, Gubbins, Carlson and Critchley). They also have higher f-c career averages.

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          • Mark Aug 11, 2021 / 3:55 pm

            Hales, Roy, Malan, Livingstone, Brook, Duckett and Ali

            That’s really quite funny!

            Replace Brook with Root, and I wouldn’t bet against them making more than our current top 7. And if they are going to make 200-250 they will do it in about fifty overs.

            I would like to see Hameed given another go. I think he has the technique,and the ability to bat long. It’s not ideal, but I think he has a future, and the cupboard is bare so desperate times and all that. He can’t do much worse than some of the current incumbents.

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          • Marek Aug 11, 2021 / 9:57 pm

            Thought I’d get you two bowling attacks too! (I added a condition of maximum one spinner, given that both sides already have a spin-bowling all-rounder and that almost all the top wicket-takers in the Hundred are either foreign or spinners or both).

            So choose from: Howell, Tom Curran, Rashid and Cullen (Hundred) or Craig Overton, Fletcher, Bamber and Rushworth (Championship). That one seems a bit clearer cut.

            And I guess that to be realistic you’d have to replace Hameed, who’s the lowest-scoring of the Championship batters, with Lewis Hill (three runs less) so that they can supply a wicketkeeper!

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  4. Mark Aug 11, 2021 / 8:18 am

    I was reading a profile about Haseeb Hameed and his slump in recent years.

    It was mentioned that back in 2018 they tried to get his technique more in tune with One day cricket. I don’t know if that is true, but it’s logical in today’s world because that’s how you can make a good living out of playing professional cricket.

    But it’s the flaw in the ECB’ s argument that all these ODI formats are saving Test cricket because it can survive on the money generated by the more popular form. But who will have the ability to bat for long periods?

    It used to be about averages, then runs per over, now it’s reduced to how many runs a ball you can score. Added to which…. as Danny says…. if you are going to start Test series in mid August with no red ball cricket played you will inevitably degrade the quality of the product. There are no players around in any red ball form to replace the failing top order. This leads to an England side which appears to be much more difficult to get out of than to get into.

    Injury or burn out seems to be more likely to get you out of the team than lack of performance.

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  5. dArthez Aug 11, 2021 / 1:49 pm

    To the shock of everyone, the ICC actually found both England and India a bit tardy in the previous Test.

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  6. Miami Dad's Six Aug 11, 2021 / 3:27 pm

    I do follow some of the county streams and COverton has been super impressive every time I’ve seen him in the past couple of years, consistently a head above any other bowler. I’m looking forward to seeing him telling Kohli to “eff off back to his own effing country”…I mean bowl India out and add useful lower order depth to the batting line up. What is the betting that they bypass him now and go for the guy who wasn’t even in the squad, Mahmood?

    I also surmised before Trent Bridge that they probably don’t mind Leach as a bowler, but that they felt with Jimmy and Broad in there it was one rabbit too many. With Curran, Overton and Robinson available, all of whom certainly can hold a bat – it is even more interesting that Moeen has been recalled. Are we aiming to bat to number 11? Or are we considering changing 3 of the 4 man bowling attack for this Test?

    Either way, Leach is being screwed over for being tagged into the squad all the time and never playing, or Mo is being screwed over for being parachuted into the squad – from an environment where he was having a fair amount of success – and not playing.

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    • dArthez Aug 11, 2021 / 4:43 pm

      “I’m looking forward to seeing him telling Kohli to “eff off back to his own effing country””

      Me too. And then Kohli and the gang taking them up on the offer.

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  7. Miami Dad's Six Aug 12, 2021 / 9:00 am

    Ahead of today’s match, I am going to suggest that England will risk their 39 year old fast bowler with the quad injury. I think they call it “managing resources”.

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    • Mark Aug 12, 2021 / 10:02 am

      They haven’t got any resources left to manage. They have broken most of them.

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      • Miami Dad's Six Aug 12, 2021 / 11:07 am

        Not only have they risked Anderson, but they’ve such little faith in their batting line up that they’ve decided to bowl first at Lords. Hameed, Mark Wood and Moeen come in for Crawley (TF), Lawrence and Broad.

        To be fair to the toss decision, Lords sometimes has nip on Day 1 and it’s been drizzly this morning, so if Anderson is fit, then I expect he’ll get the Duke zipping about a bit.

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      • Marek Aug 12, 2021 / 11:30 am

        I can see the logic of playing Hameed so as not to play Pope out of position (although personally I’d have had Pope at three)–but if we’re talking about no. 5s I struggle to see what a not-wildly-in-form 23-year-old has over a not-wildly-in-form 31-year-old. Pope seems to me the one of the younger batters who is worth persevering with for a while longer.

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        • Marek Aug 12, 2021 / 11:31 am

          Sorry–that should obviously have been the other way round: struggling to see what Bairstow has over Pope.

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  8. dArthez Aug 12, 2021 / 11:44 am

    Kohli now lost 11 out of 12 tosses in England for the Tests. Seriously, this is getting ridiculous now.

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  9. Miami Dad's Six Aug 12, 2021 / 1:20 pm

    46-0 at lunch. Both Indian bat’s very patient this morning.

    Tom Harrison being interviewed by Athers at lunch. Not exactly expecting anything interesting here. Harrison doesn’t see it as a power grab, and is growing the game by giving people a sense of belonging. He wants to create a greater pie for cricket to feed off. I assume he mainly means himself.

    Who gave this guy the job?

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    • maggiej Aug 12, 2021 / 2:19 pm

      Harrison obviously ‘doing the rounds’ today, he’s talking to Agnew at tea on TMS. i had to turn off TMS as they can’t stop talking about the Hundred.

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      • Northern Light Aug 12, 2021 / 2:24 pm

        Alison Mitchell was probing Vaughan slightly about the current mess of formats, the 16.4 and the lack of county games in the middle of August. He waffled on about everyone liking different things and how successful the 16.4 has been so far. His discomfort was palpable. And quite enjoyable.

        Like

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